Edwardsville, Ill.-based Prairie Farms Dairy Inc. has ceased milk production at its Bismarck, N.D., facility, transitioning it to a distribution-only facility, according to local news reports.
Production employees were laid off in conjunction with the announcement, with truck drivers, distribution workers, sales and administrative staff retained to operate the facility, according to a company statement to the local news. A company spokesman said that the decision was not a reflection of the work of the employees.
The announcement was a surprise to local milk suppliers who shipped their product to the facility for processing. North Dakota commissioner of Agriculture, Doug Goehring, said that the move will hurt the state’s dairy producers, “with no other processors nearby” to take the milk and keep shipping costs low.
Some local producers reportedly planned to meet with representatives of Land O’Lakes to discuss possible solutions, as the plant was reportedly once owned by Land O’Lakes.
Goehring added that, unfortunately for the state, dairy production has slipped in the last year and a half, straining the bottom line of operating a milk processing plant there.